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DARPA seeks bidders for hypersonic Blackswift

Blackswift may have emerged out of Lockheed Martin Skunk Works’ Falcon hypersonic technology demonstration, but DARPA is looking for competitive bids to design and build the unmanned demonstrator, issuing this solicitation in early March: “The Tactical Technology Office (TTO) of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is soliciting proposals to develop an extended duration […]

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Whatever happened to…NASA’s X-34?

It ended up in a hangar covered in bird crap, that’s what. A remnant of an unhappy time in NASA’s recent history, the Orbital Sciences-built X-34 was photographed by Ashley Wallace in storage at Edwards AFB in California. The X-34 was built as a flying testbed to demonstrate technology for future low-cost reusable launch vehicles. […]

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Can you hear me now? At Mach 6 it matters

When a test flight lasts only minutes and ends in a fiery plunge into the ocean, you want to make sure the radios work – to ensure telemetry data is safely sent to the ground. So Boeing is testing the antennas for the US Air Force Research Laboratory’s X-51A Scramjet-Waverider hypersonic demonstrator in the anechoic […]

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Skunks Works to build hypersonic gliders for DARPA

DARPA has just awarded Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works a $40.8 million contract to build two HTV-2 hypersonic technology vehicles to be flight-tested in 2009 under the Falcon programme. This gives me a good excuse to update my Short Guide to Hypersonics Programmes. The HTV-2 is an unpowered, unmanned, expendable vehicle to demonstrate high lift/drag aerodynamics […]

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DARPA’s Falcon – the other prompt global striker

The internet has been abuzz with stories about a new US space weapons programme, all based on an erroneous report in the Washington Post about one of my favourite DARPA projects – the Falcon hypersonic cruise vehicle technology demonstrator. Falcon has been around for yonks, but the Post managed to mangle the wording of the […]

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Blackbird to Blackswift – via Falcon?

DARPA’s annual tech-fest has caused a stir in the blogosphere with the first appearance of a model of the HTV-3X demonstrator being designed by Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works under the Falcon hypersonic technology programme. Bill Sweetman broke the story on AvWeek’s Ares blog, and Sharon Weinberger weighed in on Wired’s Danger Room. Hopefully Bill won’t […]

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A short guide to hypersonics

Hy-what? Finding it hard to keep all those hypersonics programmes straight? After all, the US Air Force Research Laboratory’s Boeing X-51A waverider, powered by Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne’s SJX61 scramjet, is the just latest in a long line. Here is a quick guide to the various recent and current research efforts aimed at air-breathing vehicles […]

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